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7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays

7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays
    Photo credit: confidence, comely. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    The holidays are an excellent opportunity to socialize, make friends, have fun with others and be grateful for the people in your life.

    But if you’re somewhat on the shy side and you have trouble opening up during social interactions, holidays can be a pain in the neck, because you know others socialize and enjoy themselves while you’re missing out on all the fun.

    Well, this year is going to be different.

    As a social confidence coach, helping others overcome their shyness and be more outgoing is the core of my job description. I want to share with you 7 great ways to be more social during the upcoming holiday season.

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    1. Fill up Your Social Agenda

    Forget about spending Christmas Eve watching a movie alone or the holiday vacation reading a 1200-page book. The first key step to enjoying meaningful interactions during the holidays is to get involved in social activities instead of avoiding them. Any social activity you can find, try to attend. Family dinner, corporate party, friends gathering, drinking night, holiday trip — anything goes.

    Even if it may not sound appealing at first — or just the thought of attending it makes you feel nervous — you will typically discover it’s a lot more fun once you actually go to it.

    2. Organize Social Events

    There is no need to wait for others to organize some social activity and invite you, too. Take the initiative, arrange your own social events, and invite others to attend.

    Throw a pre-Christmas party or a post-New Year’s Eve party to finish all the leftovers. Organize a poker night or a simple get together with old friends. There are plenty of things you can do. And when you’re the host or the initiator of a certain social activity, since you’re on your ‘turf’, it’s easier to feel confident and be more social.

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    3. Bear Gifts

    All people love to receive gifts; it’s not just children that do at this time of year. Getting gifts makes them feel appreciated. This is why gifts are a good way to elicit people’s goodwill, and the holidays are the perfect occasion to bear gifts.

    So when you visit or meet someone, take a little time to buy them a nice little holiday present. It doesn’t have to be something expensive — just something interesting. Remember: it’s the gesture that matters the most.

    4. Take More Risks

    People who are shy or reserved are archetypal “risk avoiders” in social settings. They don’t want to say anything improper, be rude or embarrass themselves. Consequently, they avoid speaking their mind and being authentic in social interactions.

    If this is your case, this is a terrific moment to start taking more risks when interacting with others. Speak your mind, open up and be as spontaneous as you can. If others like you, fine. If they don’t, don’t worry — nobody has ever died because of it.

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    5. Seek the Friendly Persons

    If you have a hard time starting conversations with people at parties or other social events, the best advice I can offer you is to look for the people who seem the friendliest in the room and start by talking with them.

    The fact they are gregarious and positive heartens you to be the same. It boosts your self-assurance and, eventually, you will also feel confident enough to talk with other persons as well.

    6. Use the Holidays to Come Up with Conversation Topics

    During the holidays, one of the best topics to talk about is the holidays. People are generally in the moment, enjoying the festivities, and they like to share them with others.

    During conversation, ask people how they’ve spent the holidays so far, what their plans for the next few days are, what they’re doing for New Year’s Eve, what presents they got for Christmas and so on. There is an abundance of things to talk about regarding the holidays — so go for it.

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    7. Listen, but Also Talk

    A good conversation is a two-way street. It’s important to be a good listener and encourage the other person to talk and open up, but you also want to talk and open up yourself.

    For many people, this can be an issue. They tend to feel uncomfortable with disclosing themselves. There is only one method to overcome this, and that is to deliberately disclose yourself more, despite the aversion you have. As you get used to it, it gets a lot easier.

    In Closing

    As you open up and become more social, and start letting go of the need to have the approval of others, you’ll find yourself having a lot of fun during social interactions and fully enjoying the holidays.

    On that note, I wish you the best — and most social — holidays you’ve ever had.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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